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Art generated by Stable Diffusion AI. Prompt: 'it operations, servers, money, 4k, high resolution'

What is a DevOps Engineer's Salary?

By Natalie Schooner on Nov 1, 2022

The median DevOps engineer’s salary is $103,994 in base pay, with around $28,514 in additional pay through bonuses, commissions, and profit sharing according to Glassdoor. Salary.com estimates the average is closer to $125k, while BuiltIn puts the average closer to $128k in base pay, with an additional $15k in cash compensation.

The short answer to what a DevOps engineer’s salary is? Definitely over six figures, likely closer to $125k if you include bonuses and additional compensation.

Of course, anyone who wants to know a typical DevOps engineer’s salary knows that it comes down to much more than medians and averages. Your estimated salary will come down to:

  • Where you live
  • Who you work for
  • What skills you have
  • How good you are at negotiating and interviewing

What is a DevOps engineer?

Before we go further into the average DevOps salary, I want to quickly outline the role of a DevOps engineer. Honestly, it’s nothing short of revolutionary. For a long time, businesses struggled to get development and operations teams to talk to each other and work together. Then DevOps was invented as a bridge – DevOps is short for software development and IT operations – and it changed the game forever.

Basically, “DevOps” engineers sit somewhere in-between developers and IT ops. As a devops engineer you’ll be maintaining cloud infrastructure, working with systems that monitor the uptime of production servers, and yes, even writing back-end code.

It’s a bit of a new role – it was only in 1993 that the Telecommunications Information Networking Architecture Consortium defined the model of a service lifecycle that combined software dev with service operations. Heck, the book that really coined the phrase “DevOps”, “The Phoenix Project”, wasn’t even published until 2013.

Partially for that reason, it doesn’t have an established definition yet. The role is designed to work well with the Agile software development style. But more than tasks, DevOps engineers are guided by a few principles: shared ownership, automating workflows, and a quick feedback loop. It’s not just about automation and efficiency though – it’s also about making development more enjoyable for everyone at the company.

Now let’s get into figuring out how much DevOps Engineers earn.

Are DevOps engineers in demand?

I’ll just say this: more than one reputable website has called the role of DevOps engineer “the most in-demand job title.” So, yes – DevOps engineers are very much in demand.

This is because the DevOps methodology works well with modern software development lifecycles. As the adoption of microservices and cloud computing increases, businesses are moving away from traditional IT operating models and towards the DevOps way of doing things.

Normally I rely on the good old Bureau of Labor Statistics to give me a stat on employability and growth, but they don’t collect information on DevOps engineer salaries or jobs. However, SimpliLearn reports that leading job search portals like indeed.com have witnessed a 75% rise in listings of DevOps jobs, and social media sites like LinkedIn have recorded a 50% increase in mention of DevOps as a skill."

If I search for “DevOps engineer” jobs on LinkedIn, I currently see 8k job openings. There are currently 166k jobs that mention “DevOps” on LinkedIn, too. It was the most heavily recruited job on LinkedIn back in 2018, too.

Why is it so popular? Well, it’s a key role for any business that has software development and IT (AKA almost all of them nowadays) and there’s a real skill gap. Over 60% of companies say they have a hard time hiring DevOps engineers, no matter the salary. Google reports that DevOps engineers are worth any cost: organizations with a good DevOps team experienced 208x faster deployments, 2,604x faster incident recovery times, and 7x lower change failure rates.

What do you need to become a DevOps engineer?

Do you dream of being a highly sought-after DevOps engineer with that enticing salary? Then here’s what you should know.

To become a DevOps engineer, you’ll need a couple of key skills:

  • Knowledge and experience with CI/CD pipelines
  • Programming fundamentals, ideally in Python, Go, and JavaScript
  • Linux fundamentals
  • Building, testing, deploying, and monitoring applications
  • Kubernetes/Docker
  • Code source management with Git
  • Knowledge of cloud provider services like AWS, GCP or Azure

You’ll be expected to:

  • Identify, develop, test, and maintain IT solutions
  • Communicate well – you’ll be expected to write documentation and share requirements and forecasts with your colleagues.
  • Automate deployment

It’s worth mentioning that in the near future, backend and DevOps roles may be combined into a single “everything the user doesn’t see” monolithic job title. In that case, the best advice is just to start writing more code. As more of the boring IT responsibilities get automated, and as code-as-infrastructure gets more popular, coding will be a necessary skill to be a DevOps engineer.

How much does a DevOps Engineer earn?

I gave away the short answer above, but of course, there’s a lot more that goes into it than just a number.

Let’s look at a couple of different factors: where you live, what certifications you have, what skills you have, and how good you are in job interviews.

Best cities for DevOps engineer salary

It shouldn’t surprise you to hear that the highest salaries are in California, Massachusetts, and New York. But before you move to one of those cities to secure that high DevOps engineer salary, you should look at the cost of living, too.

Here’s a handy chart showing you the takeaways:

cost of living cities for devops jobs

You’ll see that while NY, MA, and CA offer the highest starting salaries, Dallas, Denver and Atlanta offer the greatest take-home pay after taking taxes, cost of living, and rent prices into account.

Source: Best Cities for DevOps Engineer Salaries

The most in-demand skills and certifications

Another important factor in how much DevOps engineers earn is the skills they have. I loved Gitlab’s article on the four ways to increase your DevOps salary. Here are their four DevOps engineer salary-boosting tips:

  1. Get experience
  2. Stay educated
  3. Get certifications
  4. Focus on soft skills

Let’s break these down.

Getting DevOps experience

Gitlab cites the Randstad 2021 salary guide to show that a DevOps engineer’s salary with just one year of experience is $27k lower than a DevOps engineer with five years of experience. Add another ten years and you see another $25k bump in your expected DevOps engineer salary. In other words, the difference between junior vs senior DevOps salaries is significant.

The only way to increase your salary this way is by putting in the time. It’s worth noting that it doesn’t have to be linear time – 69% of respondents to GitLab’s survey said that they worked on side projects to boost their experience – and their salary with it.

Educating yourself about DevOps

As a DevOps engineer, part of your job is to learn non-stop. “DevOps professionals…should stay up-to-date on new frameworks, automation, data management, and security systems,” writes Sharon Gaudin in GitLab’s post. “Don’t forget the importance of analytics skills, configuration management, and DevOps platforms.”

Certifications for DevOps engineers

Rather than going back to university to boost your resume, employers are happy to see if you’ve been certified in key skills if you want to increase your DevOps engineer salary. GitLab recommends Docker, Puppet, K8s, and Ansible as good technologies to get certified in.

Soft Skills

Confidence in job interviews is a huge factor at a critical point. People who ask for more money tend to get it.

Beyond that, additional soft skills that can bolster your CV are:

  • Communication. Since your job is literally at the juncture of two massive departments, being able to get two teams to play nice together is a huge booster for your salary as a DevOps engineer.
  • Business intelligence. Gone are the days when writing lines of code was all that mattered. The ability to take a bird’s eye view of the situation and make informed decisions based on business interests will make you a prime candidate.
  • Leadership. It’s a simple fact: DevOps managers make more than DevOps engineers.

How does the salary stack up compared to other developer/engineer jobs?

DevOps engineers wear a lot of hats. This puts them in the prime position of being able to scope out and take additional roles. Let’s compare base DevOps engineer salaries with other, similar roles. I’ll use Indeed to form a basis for comparison. As a reminder, Indeed ranks the base DevOps engineer salary at $115k.

It’s important to understand that a lot of these roles are practically the same thing. What you do at an individual company will vary greatly. What a “DevOps engineer” at one company may be the same thing a “cloud engineer” does at another. That said, there are sometimes subtle differences between titles, so let’s dive in.

chart about devops vs other engineering salaries

Cloud engineer versus DevOps engineer

Cloud engineers specialize in, you guessed it, cloud architecture. This specialization means cloud engineers earn around $6k more on average, with a base salary of $121k.

“Cloud engineer” is rarely an entry-level job. You’ll likely spend 3-5 years as a DevOps engineer, then transition to a cloud engineer once you have some experience and additional certifications under your belt, like CompTIA A+. However, the work is worth it – cloud DevOps engineer salaries are higher.

Software engineer versus DevOps engineer

Software engineers might be the only job on this list that doesn’t breach six figures. Indeed estimates the average software engineer earns a paltry $94k/year in base salary.

The good news is that software development is much less ops, much more dev. If you hate IT and love coding, this will be a better job opportunity for you. It’s also worth noting that it’s often easier to “break into” development, and then transition or specialize in devops later. I think that accounts for some of the salary discrepancy: DevOps engineers often just have more experience on average.

Systems engineer versus DevOps engineer

Systems engineers are the other low data point on this list, with a base salary expectation of just $94k. This is also a potential entry-level role if you plan to transition into cloud management. This role is more ops, less dev. Expect to learn a lot about traditional IT ops.

Solutions architect versus DevOps engineer

I have a personal hatred of the word “solution” to describe anything that isn’t a chemical solution or the answer to a math problem. It’s vague. What does it mean???

Solutions architects aim to answer that question: they design software, development projects, and products. It’s a higher-level role than a DevOps engineer and is commensurately paid with an average salary of $131k per year. In reality “solutions architect” just means “super duper senior developer”. It makes sense that they make good money.

As a solutions architect, you’ll be taking a 40,000-foot view of the business, DevOps, IT, and software development to make sure everything is working together cohesively.

Final thoughts on the salary of DevOps engineers

When you think about how much DevOps engineers make, there’s so much more than just a flat number to consider. You need to think about:

  • Where you live, and where you’d be willing to move
  • What skills you have, and what skills you can gain
  • How much confidence you have, and whether you can bring that confidence to bear during interviews
  • Whether a different job would be a better fit for you.

But overall, DevOps engineers make a lot of money. Their skills are highly transferable from software development to IT to infosec. No matter where you land, you’ll earn a very comfortable living. And if you hate it, your skills will still be in high demand for any number of other roles.

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